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May 29, 2014

AJGA alumni compete in NCAA Championship final

The 2014 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship saw Alabama defeat Oklahoma State, 4-1, when senior Trey Mullinax eagled the par-5 17th hole to clinch Alabama’s second straight national title. While the players on both teams have made their mark on collegiate golf, the competition dates back to their junior golf days. Each of the 10 players in the NCAA Final competed with the AJGA.

The two teams consisted of AJGA alumni who competed in events from 2005-13, combining for 13 AJGA victories. Although the players for Alabama and those for Oklahoma State each accumulated eight Rolex Junior All-America honors, the Crimson Tide held the edge with nine AJGA victories to the Cowboys’ four. Alabama also had 46 AJGA top-10 finishes (34 in the top five) to Oklahoma State’s 29.

Statistically, Alabama senior Cory Whitsett led the pack with four AJGA wins, including the 2008 Rolex Tournament of Champions. He also earned Rolex Junior All-America honors from 2006-08 and was a member of the winning West team in the 2007 and 2008 Wyndham Cup. Sophomore Jordan Niebrugge led the Cowboys with two AJGA victories, highlighted by a 1-under-par 215 to win the 2009 Coca-Cola Junior All-Star Championship at Boyne Highlands.

Members of both teams faced each other throughout their juniors careers. Alabama’s Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt and Oklahoma State’s Talor Gooch competed at the 2009 CB&I Boys Championship at Carlton Woods with Wyatt (T3) as the top finisher. Wyatt would also go on to win the 2010 CB&I Boys Championship at Carlton Woods, facing competition from Whitsett (T5) and the Cowboys' Wyndham Clark (7).

The group also shares ties with the The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf conducted at TPC Sawgrass. Alabama teammates Whitsett and Phil Mickelson Award winner Robby Shelton both took home the prestigious trophy, with Wyatt winning in 2009 and Shelton in 2012.

At the 2008 Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf, Gooch (T3), Wyatt (6) and Whitsett (T11) all notched top finishes, and the following year, Wyatt would win the event among a field that included Clark, Gooch and Alabama’s Tom Lovelady. Before his 2012 victory, Shelton made his debut at TPC Sawgrass in 2010 where he competed against Clark and Zachary Olsen, who he defeated, 1-up, in his final match of the NCAA tournament.

Alabama’s Wyatt, Whitsett and Lovelady also faced off in the 2009 Polo Golf Junior Classic, in which Whitsett topped the trio with a No. 2 finish.